Judges Get the Night Off in Australia (UFC Fight Night 55 Review)

ufc_fn55The UFC saw another rivalry be put to rest after UFC Fight Night 55 when Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold took their war of words into the octagon. It had been two years since Bisping had mentioned that he had beat the former Strikeforce champion while they were training. During an interview Bisping revealed that he and Rockhold had trained together on the mat and that he had forced the then champion to tap. That was stepping over the line for Rockhold as there is an unwritten rule in MMA that you never talk about what happens in a gym. It is a time for fighters to get better and try different things so revealing what is happening on the mat and in the octagon is a big no-no. With that the rivalry began as Rockhold took offence to Bisping’s comments and the talk between the two heated up. It was par for the course for the Englishman who loves to talk trash before every fight while for Rockhold it was generally out of character. The former Strikeforce champion had not made a lot of noise since entering the UFC despite being a fighter that could have immediately challenged for the middleweight title. As the Strikeforce champions he was expected to have a few fights in the UFC to move his way up the rankings quickly. With his championship pedigree it was expected that two wins and he would be in a title fight for the Middleweight championship. That was not exactly how it went though, as Rockhold opened his UFC career with a KO loss at the hands of Vitor Belfort that helped Belfort rise to earn a title shot that was later taken away due to drug issues. The loss set Rockhold back and took away his chance at a quick rise up the rankings. Instead the UFC needed to see a lot more to find out if the former champion still had what it takes to win a championship. With that in mind he began a new climb up the rankings and instead of using his Strikeforce career to help him he would need to use his UFC career. He started to put wins together beating Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch with quick nights. Knocking out Philippou in the first round and submitting Boetsch in the first round showed why Rockhold had made it to the top of the heap as a member of Strikeforce. At UFC Fight Night 55 he tried to continue his climb up the rankings and get closer to that title shot everyone thought he could get too much sooner. Not only did he have that shot to move up the rankings but he had a chance to beat the man he hated the most in the UFC in Bisping. His rival had his own goal in mind at UFC Fight Night 55 coming off of a win against Cung Le he was trying to find his way back to the top of the division. After an up and down career Bisping was looking for another up period as he took on Rockhold in Australia. A matchup of two fighters that generally prefer to stand, despite Rockhold’s wrestling background, this fight promised to be a stand-up battle. That is exactly what it was from the start as both fighters faced off in the middle of the octagon prepared for a stand-up battle. From the start Bisping was the more aggressive fighter pushing the action but Rockhold remained on the outside without taking a lot of damage. An accidental headbutt in the first round opened a cut around the eye of Bisping and made him look as if he had taken the worse of the exchanges. The second round was much of the same as Bisping remained aggressive while Rockhold waited for his time to strike. He found it in the middle of the round when he threw a quick right kick that sent Bisping back and then landed a big left kick that sent Bisping to the mat. Rockhold jumped on the hurt fighter and locked in a guillotine choke to end the fight and force Bisping to tap out for the first time in his career. The loss for Bisping was just another in the long career for the Brit as he once against has to find a way to recover from a loss in an attempt to make a run at the title. The win for Rockhold was his third in a row and is another step towards the title shot he is trying to get to. As the #5 fighter in the division heading into the fight Rockhold may be only one fight away from earning a shot and after calling out Ronaldo Souza that could be coming soon.

The Brits were well represented in Australia as Bisping headlined and Ross Pearson was a part of the co-main event. Pearson has been one of the more promising lightweight fighters in recent years as he entered 2014 looking like a better fighter. His stand-up was getting better and his wrestling had been vastly improved as many thought this year could be the year he moved through the rankings and into contention for the lightweight title. It has not worked out that way though as he started out the year with a knee injury that cancelled his first fight of the year. He finally got his first fight in the octagon three months later and lost to Diego Sanchez. He recovered well beating Gray Maynard in his latest fight and came into UFC Fight Night 55 looking to put two wins together this time against Al Iaquinta. In an attempt to get back on track before the year ended Pearson was looking to get on the map in the lightweight division with a big win. Meanwhile Iaquinta was looking to take out a bigger name and show that he was ready to make his own run at the title. The fight was meant to be a stand-up battle between two fighters that had decent ground games but preferred to stand. Both fighters wanted to simply go out and get a big win, preferably by knockout. The first round saw both fighters exchange back and forth clearly looking to get the advantage on the feet. Neither fighter could really get the edge though as it was a very even round. The second was a little different though as Iaquinta became much more aggressive pushing forward. Two minutes into the second Iaquinta showed that aggressiveness landing a big right hand on Pearson sending him to the mat and forcing the referee to call the fight. The loss for Pearson was just the latest in a bad year for the Brit as he looks to a new year in hopes that he can get back on track towards the lightweight title. The win for Iaquinta will have the opposite effect as he received some recognition for the TKO win. Although he is not near the title yet the win puts him on the right track.

 

Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
In a night where no fight went to the judges there was plenty to choose from for the bonuses but a big knockout by Louis Smolka caught the attention of the UFC as Smolka landed a big kick to earn a TKO win over Richie Vaculik

Performance of the Night
The main event was the last of 11 straight finishes in a record-breaking night and earned a bonus for Rockhold’s submission win over Bisping that is sure to make him a top contender after earning this extra bonus

Fight of the Night
It was the first fight in the middleweight division for Robert Whittaker and it was a good debut as he slugged it out with Clint Hester and earned the TKO win with a big knee in the second round

 

Fight Results

Main Event:
Luke Rockhold def. Michael “The Count” Bisping
(Submission; Guillotine Choke, Rd. 2)

Main Card:
“Ragin” Al Iaquinta def. Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker def. Clint “Headbussa” Hester
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Soa “The Hulk” Palelei def. Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Undercard:
Jake “The Celtic Kid” Matthews def. Vagner “Ceará” Rocha
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 2)

Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh def. Guto Inocente
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 1)

“Smilin” Sam Alvey def. Dylan “The Villain” Andrews
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka def. Richie “Vas” Vaculik
(TKO; Rd. 3)

Chris “The Menace” Clements def. Vik “The Spartan” Grujic
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Daniel Kelly def. Luke Zachrich
(Submission; Kimura, Rd. 1)

Marcus “The Bama Beast” Brimage def. Tuerxun “Leopard” Jumabieke
(TKO; Rd. 1)

 

Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 56: Rua vs. St. Preux (Saturday November 8th; 10:30 pm ET)
Uberlândia, Brazil (Tancredo Neves Gymnasium)
Main Event: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Ovince “OSP” St. Preux
Notable: Warlley Alves vs. Alan “Brahma” Jouban
Notable: Leon “Rocky” Edwards vs. Claudio “Hannibal” Silva

UFC 180: Werdum vs. Hunt (Saturday November 15th; 10:00 pm ET)
Mexico City, Mexico (Arena Ciudad de Mexico)
Main Event: Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum vs. Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt
Notable: Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Notable: Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez vs. Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas

UFC Fight Night 57: Edgar vs. Swanson (Saturday November 22nd; 10:00 pm ET)
Austin, Texas (Frank Erwin Center)
Main Event: Frankie “The Answer” Edgar vs. Cub Swanson
Notable: Bobby “King” Green vs. Edson “Junior” Barboza
Notable: Brad “One Punch” Pickett vs. Chico “The King” Camus

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